Cardinal: Criticisms of Pope Have Gone Too Far

Archbishop of Genoa Laments Recent Accusations

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ROME, MARCH 24, 2009 ( Attacks directed toward Benedict XVI have gone too far, and Catholics won’t go along with it, says the president of Italy’s episcopal conference.

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the archbishop of Genoa, said this Monday at the inaugural session of the conference’s permanent episcopal council, under way in Rome.

Referring to the recent controversies regarding the lifting of the excommunication of four bishops of the St. Pius X Society, and comments the Pontiff made about condoms on his trip to Africa, the cardinal said «the harshest criticisms to our beloved Pope — from Italy and above all from abroad — have gone beyond good sense.»

Not wanting to dedicate too much time on the «clumsy accusations,» Cardinal Bagnasco directed his comments toward the letter Benedict XVI sent earlier this month to the bishops of the world, in which he explained the reasons for lifting the excommunication of the four Lefebvrite prelates, who had been unlawfully ordained in 1988 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

The letter «immediately attracted wide consensus,» the cardinal noted. He described it as an appeal to the whole Church for genuine reconciliation.

Nevertheless, the cardinal expressed a «severe judgment» regarding the «postures and words that led to a situation which should never have come about, fueling systematic alarmist interpretations and conduct that is mistrustful toward the hierarchy.»


Regarding Benedict XVI’s trip to Cameroon and Angola last week, Cardinal Bagnasco noted that «from the beginning, [it] was diverted from Westerners’ attention by a controversy — on condoms — which, frankly, was unwarranted.»

«It is no accident that Africa’s own media showed no interest in the subject, were it not for the damaging insistence of international agencies, and for the statements of some European political leaders and supranational organizations,» affirmed the cardinal.

The archbishop of Genoa lamented that the media, governments and international institutions did not «limit themselves to dissent freely, but reached an ostracism that goes beyond secular canons themselves. In any case, derision and vulgarity will never be part of civilized language, and fatally fall on those who practice it.»

Furthermore, the cardinal said the Holy Father’s comments on the issue have been confirmed by those who work in the fields of health and education in Africa.

Africa needs to focus more on promoting greater access to education and medical care, as well as the «effective promotion of women,» Cardinal Bagnasco continued.

He appealed to governments «to keep their commitments,» to go beyond «demagogy and the neo-colonial logic of control.»

The cardinal also noted that bishops and the faithful will not accept that the Pope is laughed at or insulted, as «the best tradition of our Catholicism is to be with the Pope always and unconditionally.»

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